Today was Governor General Michaëlle Jean's last day on the job as the Queen's representative in Canada. Although some may have found her five year term as Vice-Regal controversial at times, for me there was never any doubt how she felt about our troops.
In Ottawa today, there was also not much doubt how our troops feel about her, as she performed her last military troops review:
An emotional Michaëlle Jean held her last review as Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces on the grounds of the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa September 29, 2010.Photograph by: Chris Mikula, The Ottawa Citizen
Tears as Gov. Gen. Jean bids Canadian troops, veterans a fond farewellBy Tobi Cohen, Postmedia News September 29, 2010 9:51 PM
OTTAWA — As she walked through the rows of aging Korea and Second World War veterans, wounded Afghan soldiers and rank and file service members, Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean did what she's done best during her term as the Queen's representative in Canada.
She stopped to listen and share a moment, never rushing anybody along. She choked back tears while speaking with one of the most decorated elderly veterans and hugged a wounded soldier whose cane belies his tender age.
Compassionate, empathetic and warm are the words people have used over and over to describe Jean whose five-year term ends Friday.
Those qualities were on full display Wednesday as army, navy, air force, special forces, veterans, cadets and senior military brass gathered on the grounds of the Canadian War Museum below an overcast sky to say thank you and bid her farewell.
"You stood on the tarmac in freezing rain and blistering heat for repatriations, offering a warm embrace and shedding tears with loved ones of fallen soldiers," said Defence Minister Peter MacKay.
"The way you spoke with the troops, passionately, eloquently, demonstrated genuine care and concern and I witnessed that again today . . . your words, actions, sentiments and personal investment speak volumes and you carried the compassion of a country on your shoulders," he added.
Jean has long had a special place in her heart for Canadian troops.
During her term, she travelled twice to Afghanistan to meet with deployed soldiers, visited the Canadian war cemetery in France, dined on seal heart with Rangers in the Far North, met with troops providing relief following the devastating earthquake in her native Haiti and, as traditional commander-in-chief, resurrected the tradition of donning a military uniform.
While it's her job to participate in Remembrance Day events and medal presentations, she also attended many repatriation ceremonies for fallen soldiers and regularly toured hospitals and rehabilitation centres to talk to wounded veterans.
That willingness to go above and beyond was recognized with a full military parade and 21-gun salute.At one point, chief of defence staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk called for troops to remove their headdress for a less formal "three cheers for the governor general" as a military band broke into Auld Lang Syne, the famous Scottish farewell lament most commonly heard on New Year's Eve.
"You have earned our great admiration, our heartfelt respect and a privileged place in all of our hearts forever," he said."Your Excellency has been absolutely wonderful and inspiring in fulfilling all those functions on behalf of our nation," he added.
Governor General Jean has always gone above and beyond in her support of our troops, and it was always obvious how highly she regarded each of our troops. Today she again shared her appreciation for those gathered to salute her:
Outgoing GG sent off with bang as military offers 21-gun farewell
In her own address following her troop inspection, Jean spoke about the military uniform and how it represented something far more sinister growing up "under the yoke of a merciless dictatorship" in Haiti.
"Working beside you over the past five years has given me a true measure of the integrity, courage and generosity of the members of Canada's military," she added.
"Everywhere I have been, I have witnessed your remarkable work and the inconceivable risks you take on a daily basis to build peace, to provide emergency assistance and take part in reconstruction efforts around the world."
Just as she is said to have inspired so many of them, Jean described the men and women before her as a "constant source of inspiration."
Among those to participate in Wednesday's event was Master Cpl. Jeremy Leblanc who was injured during a 2006 attack in Afghanistan that killed his commander, forcing him to assume control of his section. Hours after the ceremony, Jean announced that he would be among 24 soldiers to receive military medals — likely her last award announcement before her successor David Johnston assumes office on Friday.
"In my opinion you did a great deal to generate support for the troops from all corners of Canada," Leblanc said.
"You know what price us soldiers and our families pay and we know that we have your support in good times and in the absolutely worst of times."
Della Morley, a Silver Cross Mother who lost her son Cpl. Keith Morley to a suicide bomber in Afghanistan about a month before Leblanc's attack, said her son's funeral was exactly four years ago....
To read of this mother's phone call from Michaëlle Jean, and for more reactions, go here.
In my humble opinion, Governor General fulfilled her duties in an exemplary manner, often in a trying political climate. Throughout her tenure, her support for our troops never wavered.
Thank you, Ma'am, for YOUR service to Canada. Thank you.
Post a Comment